A memorial ceremony honoring the 156th Airlift Wing aviators from Puerto Rico Air National Guard who died in the crash of a WC-130H cargo plane in Savannah, Ga.

Fatal military aviation accidents have reached a six-year high, in both the number of accidents and the number of pilots and crews killed, a Military Times investigation has found.

So far, 12 fatal accidents — 11 crashes and one ground incident — in fiscal year 2018, which began Oct. 1, have claimed the lives of 35 military pilots and crew. It’s the highest number of crashes in years, and the total number of deaths so far this year ties 2016’s deadly year, when 35 aviators were also killed.

There are still four months to go in fiscal 2018.

Last week’s horrific crash of a Puerto Rico Air National Guard WC-130 brought the state of military aviation back into sharp focus. The plane’s fall from the sky was caught on video; all nine airmen aboard were killed.

Over the next 24 hours, in media briefings with reporters at the Pentagon, senior leaders downplayed the rash of accidents, calling each unique and not indicative of a trend.

“This is not a crisis. But it is a crisis for each of these families,” Pentagon Press Secretary Dana White said Thursday. “And we owe them a full investigation, and to understand what’s going on. But these are across services, and these are different individuals and different circumstances.”

The day before, Navy Secretary Richard Spencer had roughly the same response.

“We look at the five-year average, we’re not out of the norm at all,” Spencer said of the Navy’s accidents. at an unrelated media briefing just hours after the crash.

It’s that type of messaging that seeds doubt in current military pilots’ minds that Pentagon leadership is really aware of how bad the problem is — and that it’s one of the reasons they are leaving military service.

“I haven’t seen this many accidents in a long, long time,” said one C-17 instructor pilot who asked not to be identified. “Even my civilian friends are starting to notice it. That’s kind of a wake up call.”

Fiscal Year Total Fatal Class A Mishaps Total Deaths
2013 10 23
2014 9 15
2015 9 27
2016 9 35
2017 9 33
2018 12 35
Totals 58 168

An investigation last month by Military Times found that military aviation accidents across the military’s manned bombers, fighters, cargo planes, helicopters and tiltrotor aircraft had jumped 39 percent since the automatic budget cuts of 2013.

Most of those accidents were Class Cs, the more minor incidents that either result in injury that leads to lost work days, or cost between $50,000 and $500,000 to fix.